When answering the question whether business ethics should be an important part of the university education of students of both management and related studies you have to first look at what ethics is; Pratley defines ethics as, “a branch of philosophy. Its object is the study of both moral and immoral behaviour in order to make well founded judgements and to arrive at adequate recommendations. “1 What this shows is that ethics could be seen to be an important subject for students to undertake as it would help to make more valid and informed judgements in the future when working in the workplace.
Though we are talking about ethics we are discussing a particular faction of ethics which is that of Business ethics, the ethical dilemmas within business organisations and also the business environment. In relation to the question my point of view would be that Business ethics should be a subject that should be seen as important in the education of management students and I will hopefully help to draw an argument which will help to show how and why I believe that business ethics should been seen as an important subject within the management framework.
When most management students leave university they will be looking for jobs in the business sector and whether these students become high-level or low-level employees within an organisation ethical decisions will arise, and what business ethics will do is give these future employees the knowledge and the awareness of how to decipher whether the decision by the organisation is both morally and ethically correct and whether a decision which has been made by an organisation (if unethical) can be resolved, this argument is also justified by that of Elaine Sternberg who states that “Business ethics is necessary because ethical choices are unavoidable; the business ethics challenge is to make that inevitable ethical decision explicit so as to make it better .
Velasquez makes a valid point in the argument for the case for business ethics, he argues that “no business can exist entirely without ethics, the pursuit of business requires at least a minimal adherence to ethics on the part of those involved in business”3, and that for a business to run affectively one of the main factors it needs is stability, ethics is this stability as it gives guidelines (even if these guidelines are minimal) to which all businesses must conform to.
This again helps to demonstrate the importance of business ethics as a subject that cannot be overlooked as it shows how these moral codes are needed if society is to be run effectively and so if all management students had this knowledge they would be able to have a better understanding of why there are regulations in place and how these can help to both benefit a firm and society as a whole.
Another point is that business ethics is particularly relevant at this point in time, as in recent years ethical considerations have been introduced into the forefront of business practices, that is as Elaine Sternberg suggests that “Business is not just affected by that of economic circumstances, but also by social, political, and technological changes and the shifting attitudes and outlook of their stakeholders.
“This shows the importance of business ethics in management and related studies, how moral arguments can have an affect on society and that of the business. Also, what this quote shows is that business ethics is a key component which cannot be overlooked within an organisation’s structure and therefore it is essential that it is taught to management students as it is an element which can sometimes either cause the rise or downfall of a business and so will be looked upon highly by that of prospective employers.
Though in my opinion I believe that business ethics is vital for that of management and related studies, many scholars believe that business ethics cannot be used within the business environment and so believe that it should not be taught as in their opinion it is all just “common sense”. Elaine Sternberg helps to dispel this argument by saying that though to an extent this could be seen as true, as if you had some knowledge of business it would be easy to understand and therefore easy to apply, but that to understand what constitutes ethical practices and put these in place requires more of a deeper understanding and systematic approach which can only be comprehended through studying the subject.
So in conclusion I believe that Business Ethics should constitute an important part of the university education for all students of management related studies as the moral arguments which are found in business ethics will be relevant in everyday life and also in that of the workplace, it is a study which helps to deeper the understanding of moral and ethical dilemma’s and will also help the student(s) to approach a more valid judgement on matters which may occur then if they had not studied the subject. Also, Business ethics helps to increase stability within the workplace as it helps to keep the employees, the employers and the business itself in check so that ethical practices are kept to.
The last point is that ethics within the business environment is becoming ever increasingly important and if students who are going into these sectors already have a clear understanding of the ethical and moral codes they will be able to adapt better within the organisation and also be able to resolve issues which maybe cause for concern for either the employees within the organisation or how the business is portrayed to that of society.
This argument that business ethics is vital importance is summed up in a quote by Aristotle who helps to show that an increase in knowledge means more understanding of the moral codes which need to be abided by: “Will not knowledge of [the good], then, have a great influence on life? Shall we, not like archers who have a mark to aim at, be more likely to hit upon what is right? “